Official statement from Bishop William F. Medley on “Fiducia Supplicans-
On the Pastoral Meaning of Blessings”
On December 18, 2023, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, with the consent of Pope Francis, issued a declaration on the pastoral meaning of blessings, Fiducia Supplicans. This declaration comes in response to inquiries over the years regarding the blessing of persons in unions not recognized as marriages by the Catholic Church. These unions may be that of a samesex couple or a man and woman not married within the Catholic Church.
Every priest is approached frequently to impart blessings. This happens in hospitals, airpo1is, grocery stores – in public or private places – and signifies a respect for the Church as an instrument of God’s blessing and indicates a hunger to receive that blessing by people of faith. When such a blessing is requested, one has never needed to ask for credentials, which remains the same now. Through the Church, God deigns to bless everyone. What one does with the grace the blessing imparts, however, is up to the recipient of that blessing.
Thus, the new declaration does nothing to change Church teaching regarding the sacrament of marriage as a union of a man and a woman in a permanent covenant of life and love. In fact, the declaration goes to great lengths to establish that any blessing of persons should not be presented as such, in order not to confuse the Chtfrch’s teaching on marriage or be attached to a civil ceremony that might celebrate another such union or wedding.
From the Old Testament traditions to the life of Jesus and the early Church p01irayed in the New Testament, we see God’s desire to bless his people and peoples’ desire to be blessed. The Church’s latest declaration is meant to affirm the importance of God’s desire to bless all creation.
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops issued the following response:
“The Declaration issued today (12-18-23) by the Vatican’s Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith articulated a distinction between liturgical (sacramental) blessings and pastoral blessings, which may be given to persons who desire God’s loving grace in their lives. The Church’s teaching on marriage has not changed, and this declaration affirms that, while also making an eff01i to accompany people through the imparting of pastoral blessings because each of us needs God’s healing love and mercy in our lives.”
Most Reverend William F. Medley Bishop of Owensboro
December 19, 2023
Document from the Vatican: